More demanding federal regulation, universal local opposition to waste treatment and disposal facilities, and increased long-term liabilities for waste sites have substantially restricted the supply of licensed waste handlers and have sharply increased the costs of waste disposal. As a result of increased costs and downstream liabilities for cleanup, industrial generators have begun to examine more closely their waste management practices and opportunities they may have to reduce the amount of hazardous waste they generate.
The urgent need to marshal the full range of industrial strategies to achieve significant reduction in the amount and toxicity of hazardous waste and the environmentally sound treatment of residual wastes suggests the need to investigate whether the economic incentives embodied in the tax code harmonize with the national hazardous waste management policy or set up dissonances with the policy that discourage private cooperation. This Article probes the extent to which federal taxes, as reflected in the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and elsewhere, are compatible or incompatible with federal environmental policies with respect to hazardous wastes.
After a brief discussion in Part II of the lack of specific environmental policy input into the drafting of tax legislation, this Article proceeds in Part III to the analysis of the Code provisions affecting firms' management of wastes and their associated risks. This analysis is organized according to the general character of the industrial activity affected. Section A deals with the general policy underlying tax deductions. Section B deals with the specifics of industrial operations, including the tax treatment of raw materials, or feedstocks, that are introduced into the production process and tax incentives related to changes in industrial processes and new production technologies. Section C discusses the tax treatment of waste disposal, including both pollution control equipment to treat waste before release to the environment, as well as ultimate waste disposal. Finally, Section D considers tax effects on the expenses and insurance or capital accumulations to cover liabilities that may accrue to firms after disposal of waste.
Richard A. Westin & Sanford E. Gaines, The Relationship of Federal Income Taxes to Toxic Wastes: A Selective Study, 16 B. C. Envtl. Aff. L. Rev. 753 (1989).